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    Adam Long made a 14-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday to win the Desert Classic for his first PGA Tour title. Making his sixth career start on the tour, Long closed with a 7-under 65 on the Stadium Course at PGA West to beat playing partners Phil Mickelson and Adam Hadwin by a stroke. Mickelson, the leader after each of the first three rounds, fought putting problems in a 69. Hadwin shot 67. Long set up with the winning put with a 6-iron shot from 175 yards with the ball below his feet in dormant grass on a mound to the right of the fairway. The 31-year-old former Duke player earned his PGA Tour card with a 13th-place finish last year on the Web.com Tour's regular-season money list. Long finished at 26-under 262. He opened with a 63 on PGA West's Nicklaus Tournament Course, shot 71 on Friday at the Stadium layout and had another 63 on Saturday at La Quinta Country Club. The 48-year-old Mickelson was making his first tour start since early October and first competitive appearance since beating Tiger Woods in Las Vegas in November in a made-for-TV event. The Hall of Famer won the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship last year for his 43rd PGA Tour title. Hadwin had his fourth straight top-six finishes in the event. He was second in 2017 after a third-round 59 at La Quinta and tied for third last year. Talor Gooch was fourth at 24 under after a 64, and Dominic Bozzelli followed at 22 under after a 66. Jon Rahm, the 2018 winner, shot 67 to finish sixth at 21 under. Top-ranked Justin Rose closed with a 70 to tie for 34th at 14 under. He's the first No. 1 player to play the tournament since the world ranking began in 1986.
  • A big comeback. A blown call. And, finally, a booming kick that sent the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl. After rallying from an early 13-0 deficit, the Rams stunned the New Orleans Saints with Greg Zuerlein's 57-yard field goal in overtime for a 26-23 victory in the NFC championship game Sunday — an outcome that might not have been possible without an egregious mistake by the officials in the closing minutes of regulation. Los Angeles cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman committed a blatant interference penalty with a helmet-to-helmet hit inside the 5, forcing the Saints to settle for Wil Lutz's 31-yard field goal that made it 23-20 with 1:45 left in regulation. That was enough time for Jared Goff to lead the Rams down the field for Zuerlein's tying field goal, a 48-yarder with 15 seconds remaining. New Orleans won the coin toss and got the ball first in the extra period. But, with a Rams defender in his face, Drew Brees fluttered up a pass that was picked off by John Johnson III, who was able to hang on to the interception while stumbling backward. Johnson hopped up and celebrated by doing with the 'Choppa Style' dance popularized by New Orleans rapper Choppa, whose namesake song had become a Saints' rallying cry and was even performed during the halftime show. The Rams weren't able to do much offensively, but it didn't matter. Zuerlein booted through the winning field goal from just inside midfield with plenty of room to spare. 'It's unbelievable, man. I can't put it into words,' Goff said. 'The defense played the way they did to force it to overtime. The defense gets a pick and Greg makes a 57-yarder to win it. That was good from about 70. Unbelievable.' The Superdome, which had been in uproar all afternoon, suddenly turned eerily silent. It was the first home playoff loss for the Saints with Brees and coach Sean Payton, who and been 6-0 in those games since their pairing began in 2006. The Rams (15-3) and their 32-year-old coach, Sean McVay, capped a remarkable rise since moving back to Los Angeles three years ago. The team will be appearing in its first Super Bowl since the 2001 season, when the 'Greatest Show on Turf' was still in St. Louis. 'Shoot, I don't even know what day it is,' McVay said. 'All I know is we're NFC champs, baby!' It was another bitter end to the season for the Saints, who lost the previous season in the divisional round on the 'Minnesota Miracle' — the Vikings' long touchdown pass on the final play of the game. 'It's a tough pill to swallow,' said Brees, who was denied a shot at adding to the Super Bowl title he won during the 2009 season. This time, New Orleans (14-4) couldn't hang on to the lead or overcome a mistake by the officials. The Saints were on the verge of blowing out the Rams, scoring on their first three possessions and taking advantage of an interception off a dropped pass by Todd Gurley. Then a fake punt early in the second quarter gave Los Angeles its initial first down of the game. Sparked by that play, the Rams finally came to life offensively and drove into position for the first of four field goals by Zuerlein. Gurley made it 13-10 at halftime on a 6-yard touchdown run just before the intermission. INJURY REPORT The Saints lost tight end Josh Hill to a concussion in the first quarter. Hill was injured after hauling in a 24-yard pass from Brees. While making the tackle, Los Angeles Rams linebacker Cory Littleton delivered a forearm to Hill's head. No penalty was called, but Hill staggered off the field to be evaluated by the medical staff. Just before halftime, the Saints announced he was done for the game. The loss of Hill led to a much bigger role in the offense for Garrett Griffin, who spent most of the season on the practice squad. He caught a 5-yard pass for his first career touchdown. UP NEXT The Rams head to Atlanta in about a week for the Feb. 3 Super Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. They will face either the Kansas City Chiefs or the New England Patriots, who met Sunday night for the AFC title. ___ Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry ___ For more AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • To St. Louis pitcher John Brebbia, this fussin' and feudin' between the Cardinals and Chicago Cubs is a perfect winter warmup. 'Honestly, people were kind of forgetting baseball season was coming up,' Brebbia said Sunday. 'So I think it was a good way to remind everyone that Cardinals-Cubs are going to be back in action soon.' 'No more of this football or whatever it's called now,' he said. 'It's our time.' The whole thing started innocently enough at a Cubs fan event Friday when retired pitcher Ryan Dempster, in a playful talk-show format, asked Chicago star Kris Bryant about the Gateway City. 'Who would want to play in St. Louis? So boring. It's so boring,' Bryant said. 'I always get asked like, 'Where do you like to play? Where do you not like to play?' St. Louis is on the list where I don't like to play.' Quipped Dempster: 'I remember when I was getting traded, and they asked me, 'Hey, how about St. Louis?' I said, 'Zero chance, pal. No way.' I wouldn't even go there as a free agent. Not happening.' Predictably, the flippant banter drew a loud cheer from the Cub rooters in attendance. In St. Louis, the reaction was a bit different. 'All stars, elite players and leaders of their teams do not speak bad about any city,' Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina posted on Instagram. 'There should be respect, and you should play and compete with respect. Only stupid players and losers make comments like the ones made by Bryant and Dempster.' Molina, who is no stranger social media, posted a screenshot of Bryant's interview with Dempster. To add a little spice, he added a photo of Dempster giving up a home run to then-Cardinal Lance Berkman. 'If they want to get Yadi fired up for the season that is fine by me. But other than that, it's just a Twitter fight at this point so I'm not all that interested in it,' St. Louis general manager Michael Girsch said at Sunday's fan convention. 'If Yadi feels like it got him a little bit more excited for 2019, then that will work.' The Cardinals-Cubs rivalry is one of the top ones in baseball, pitting fans on both the red and blue sides against each other all year long. Brebbia quickly got in his piece, responding to Bryant's comments by writing on Twitter: 'cry me a River, loser.'#stlcards.' Immediately, the post went viral. 'I was surprised to see that,' Brebbia said. 'I'm not much of a social media guru. I got a little taste of what it's like to have my photo on an Instagram page or whatever it's called.' Brebbia first learned about the Bryant comments while on a Cardinals caravan stop Saturday in Peoria, Illinois. 'We were doing a Q-and-A, you could call it a Town Hall-style setup,' Brebbia said. 'Someone asked if we had heard the comment that Kris Bryant made. We didn't know what he said. He mentioned Kris called St. Louis boring and I don't know anybody in St. Louis who enjoys that opinion. So, I just tried to shuffle that off to the side.' 'I got to see that (Yadier's reaction) later that evening. He's a guy who is passionate about this city. It's been good to him. So he has my full support, for sure. I love being out here and I love being his teammate. I'm standing by him as long as he needs.' Brebbia and Bryant have faced each other four times on the field — the former NL MVP is 0 for 4 with a strikeout against the righty-hander reliever. With Brebbia becoming an important piece of the St. Louis bullpen, they should have more opportunities to square off in the NL Central. 'You know, I support Yadi's comments completely,' Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. 'I don't know Kris that well. He's a really good player. He's clearly entitled to his opinion and everybody's got their opinion on what's considered boring or not. Everybody has their own definition of boring and I always respect people's opinions.' 'I respect Kris is a player and he's entitled to his opinion. I also respect our catcher, Yadi, and I back his comments,' he said. Brebbia was talking to fellow Cardinals reliever Chasen Shreve on Sunday when the subject came up. 'Maybe you should be by yourself a little bit,' Shreve cracked. Shreve is from Las Vegas, as is Bryant, and they know each other well. 'I actually haven't seen the video yet,' Shreve said. 'I'm trying to stay a little out of it because Kris is a good buddy of mine. It's all fun and games, really. We take it seriously but at the same time, maybe we think Chicago is a little boring. I don't know. It's all opinion.' The teams meet 19 times in the regular season this year, starting May 3 at Wrigley Field. The clubs finish the season with a three-game series at St. Louis beginning Sept. 29. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Alanna Smith's career day meant so much for far more than just basketball. Sure, Stanford celebrated the Australian dynamo's brilliance on the court Sunday in an 85-64 victory by the sixth-ranked Cardinal against Washington State that helped Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer reach her 900th win in 33 seasons at the school, yet the Cardinal also cheered and supported survivors of human trafficking after Smith organized an awareness day on the issue. Smith scored a career-high 34 points in Stanford's 20th straight home victory and the school's first Human Trafficking Awareness Game. She shot 13 for 17 with four 3-pointers and also had 15 rebounds — one off her career best — in her third 30-point performance of the season. 'I didn't plan to have it on this day just, I was just hoping to do it at some point in this season,' she said of the awareness game. 'But to have a big crowd and to win a huge game and to play well, it means a lot. I'm not just about basketball and that's our whole team, too. Our whole team is really caring and we love to give back, and as athletes that's something I think is really important to do. I'm really happy this day kind of came together.' Stanford (16-1, 6-0 Pac-12) is off to the program's best start since beginning 22-1 in 2013-14. VanDerveer's milestone, Maples Pavilion also celebrated survivors of human trafficking thanks to Smith's leadership in planning 'That's kind of Alanna as a quintessential Stanford student,' VanDerveer said. 'She's not just about basketball, she's not just about academics, she's into her studies and I think it's a great statement that she cares about more than just dribbling and shooting. And all of our team does. I think the Stanford athletes as a whole are very caring and passionate people. I know Alanna liked to be able to bring human trafficking to this kind of platform to be able to say, 'Hey, it's not OK and we've got to do something about it.'' VanDerveer became the fifth Division I men's or women's coach to reach 900 victories at one school, joining late Tennessee women's coach Pat Summitt, UConn's Geno Auriemma, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse men's coach Jim Boeheim. 'I never thought about it. It's a little mind-boggling just to think how quickly it's gone,' VanDerveer said. 'I just want to enjoy the day today, with our team with Alanna having a great performance.' Kiana Williams added 19 points and DiJonai Carrington 11 for the Cardinal, who shot 76.9 percent in the third quarter (10 for 13). Cherilyn Molina had 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists for Washington State. Cougars forward Borislava Hristova added 11 points and seven rebounds. She missed a double-double for the first time in 18 games this season. Her streak of 17 straight had matched the sixth-longest such streak in school history. Washington State (7-11, 2-5) lost for the fifth time in six games after a 77-63 defeat at California on Friday night in which the team fought back before giving up an 18-2 run. It won't get easier for the Cougars: They host No. 5 Oregon in their next game Friday back in Pullman. The Cougars play three straight against top-10 teams. Washington State took a quick lead by scoring the game's first basket before Stanford went on a 19-3 run — including 14-0 during one stretch in which the Cardinal forced three turnovers and held the Cougars without scoring for more than four minutes. Stanford improved to 64-0 all-time against Washington State and 32-0 in the series at home, with 20 of the last 21 wins by double digits. DISCUSSING HUMAN TRAFFICKING Smith took a class on human trafficking last quarter and became involved planning Sunday's event, doing a video that showed on the main scoreboard at halftime and working with public address announcer Betty Ann Hagenau — who also is founder of the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition. Hagenau was the guest lecturer in Smith's class that day when they discussed doing more to bring awareness to the issue. A table on the concourse provided information for further community engagement. The halftime dancers included human trafficking survivors ages 11-47 from the non-profit Love Never Fails, which works to restore, educate and protect those at risk of domestic human trafficking. The dancers were invited to the Stanford locker room after the game to meet the players and coaches, with Williams calling it 'incredible.' 'This is all by Alanna Smith's leadership,' Hagenau said. BIG PICTURE Washington State: Washington State missed its final eight shots over a 5:05 span of the second quarter and nine of 10 to fall behind 44-26 at halftime. The Cougars dropped to 1-6 on the road under first-year coach Kamie Ethridge. Stanford: The Cardinal are 97-6 at home in Pac-12 play since 2007-08. They won their 16th straight conference game at home, where Stanford was the lone team in the league to go unbeaten during the regular-season Pac-12 schedule last season. This is the longest unbeaten run at home since Stanford won 28 in a row at Maples from Jan. 18, 2013, until Nov. 20, 2014, an overtime loss to Texas. UP NEXT Washington State: Host Oregon on Friday. Stanford: At Colorado on Friday. ___ More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • Eun-Hee Ji of South Korea left the mistakes to everyone else down the stretch in the LPGA Tour season opener. Ji managed a strong wind and temperatures in the 50s on Sunday by making three birdies on the back nine to pull away and close with a 1-under 70, giving her a two-shot victory in the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. Ji got her mistakes out of the way early, opening with two bogeys to fall behind Lydia Ko. The 32-year-old South Korean took the lead for good with a birdie on the 10th hole at Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons, and she stayed in front the rest of the way. 'It was a little bit chilly for me today. My body was a little bit tight on first tee, so I just pulled a little bit, and I made a bogey,' she said. 'I made a bogey again second hole. I was like, 'OK, wait a minute. I need to play this.' But I have like 16 more holes, and I just trust my swing after that.' Ko was one shot behind when she pulled her tee shot on the par-5 13th and never found it, and then compounded the error with a three-putt for a double bogey. Ko made double bogey on the closing hole for a 42 on the back nine and a 77. Ji finished at 14-under 270 to win by two over Mirim Lee, who made only one bogey in her round of 68. Nelly Korda (71) finished third. 'I just enjoyed my game with my celebrity partners,' Ji said. 'It makes it more fun and I relaxed more. So I didn't get nervous.' The LPGA opener was limited to winners over the last two seasons. It also included a celebrity field of athletes and entertainers who competed for a $500,000 purse using the modified Stableford scoring system. Former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz had 33 points in the final round for a three-point victory over former pitcher Mark Mulder. Smoltz was busy doing math with the Stableford system, trying to hold on for the victory. 'I played really defensively knowing I could get two points for par,' Smoltz said. 'I never thought the bogey I made at 17 would be the difference.' Stacy Lewis, in her first competition as a mother, shot 70 and tied for sixth. Ariya Jutanugarn, the No. 1 player in women's golf who captured every major award last year, went into the weekend two shots out of the lead and closed with a pair of 75s to tie for 18th. Her sister, Moriya Jutanugarn, managed a bogey-free round for a 69 to tie for fourth with Shanshan Feng (70). Ko says her problems on the 13th started with thinking she had to hammer her tee shot. No one could find it in the marsh area left of the fairway, though Ko was at least consoled to see 'like a million balls in there, so it makes me feel better that I wasn't the only one that hit there.' She hit another tee shot and easily carried the bunker, and then hit a stock 3-wood onto the green. 'I was like, 'Well, that was stupid.' Because I could have just hit a normal driver, and I probably wouldn't have duck-hooked it and it would still be able to be in play,' Ko said. 'I guess there's moments I thought it was necessary, but then it wasn't. But, hey, you're always going to have some of these failures along the way.' The LPGA is now off for two weeks before resuming in Australia for the Vic Open. The tour returns to the United States on March 21-24 for the Founders Cup in Arizona.
  • This time, it was the top tier's turn. The headliners in the AP Top 25 couldn't avoid the stumbles that had befallen their lower-ranked poll peers a week earlier, from top-ranked Duke's home loss to Syracuse to the nation's last two unbeaten teams — No. 2 Michigan and No. 4 Virginia — falling for the first time. In all, six teams in the top 10 lost at least once to set the stage for significant movement Monday in the new poll — including a possible change at No. 1. Compare that with the previous week, when top-10 teams emerged unscathed and remained in their poll positions while 12 of the 15 teams outside the top 10 lost at least once. VOLS MAKE THEIR CASE The Blue Devils' overtime loss to Syracuse on Monday night, followed by the Wolverines' loss at Wisconsin, could lift third-ranked Tennessee to No. 1 for the first time since 2008. The Volunteers (16-1, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) have won 12 straight, the program's longest streak since the 1977-78 season, since falling to No. 7 Kansas in overtime in New York on Nov. 24. Tennessee beat Arkansas and Alabama in the past week. 'It's definitely something that, we would definitely love to be in that position for sure. Who doesn't want to be No. 1?' junior guard Jordan Bone said. 'But we're not focused on that. We're focused on what's in front of us.' STAYING PUT? Of course, Duke (15-2, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) has made an argument to stay at No. 1, too. The Syracuse loss came while missing freshman starter Cam Reddish (illness). Then the Blue Devils lost freshman point guard Tre Jones — the critical cog to their defense with his relentless on-ball presence — to a first-half shoulder injury that will sideline him indefinitely. Yet the Blue Devils came up with a few adjustments leading up to the visit from reigning league champion Virginia. They made defensive switches from positions 1 through 5 on screens for the first time. They also threw some zone-defense looks at the Cavaliers in the second half. Ultimately, Duke won a tight fight to the horn against the No. 1-ranked team in the coaches' poll, KenPom and the NCAA's NET rankings. 'I'm not saying it's the cat's meow here or a new invention or anything,' coach Mike Krzyzewski said of the defensive switches. 'But you have to do a little something different.' OUTSIDE STRUGGLES Virginia has been one of the nation's most efficient offenses, which might go overlooked by some with the Cavaliers playing a clock-controlling pace that leads to fewer possessions and lower scores. And offense generally wasn't a major problem in the Duke loss — except in one area in particular. The Cavaliers arrived in Durham shooting nearly 41 percent from 3-point range but made a season-low 3 of 17 in Cameron Indoor Stadium. By comparison, Virginia had made 10 of 23 against Clemson and 13 of 24 in Monday's rout of No. 9 Virginia Tech in its last two games. And it hadn't had fewer than four in any game this season before Saturday. Virginia shot 53 percent for the game despite those struggles, including 69 percent inside the arc. The loss offered Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett a teachable moment even with a veteran team that swept last year's ACC regular-season and tournament titles: 'That's where your soundness defensively, defensive rebounding, taking care of the ball, has to be at a high level.' As for the players, juniors Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome talked about it being a missed opportunity. 'What are we, 24-2 in the last two years in the ACC?' Guy said. 'So we'll be just fine.' MICHIGAN'S LOSS It had been a long time since Michigan lost a regular-season game before the trip to Wisconsin. The Wolverines (17-1, 6-1 Big Ten) fell at Northwestern on Feb. 6 last year, then won five straight games to close the regular-season schedule. Their only loss since had been to Villanova in last year's national championship game. But Michigan shot just 41 percent and committed 16 turnovers in Saturday's loss to the Badgers. 'That's a hell of a run, and now it doesn't mean anything,' Michigan coach John Beilein said. 'We've got to go back and figure out a way to beat Minnesota on Tuesday. ROUGH WEEK Four AP Top 25 teams lost twice this week, with No. 8 Texas Tech being the highest-ranked of the group. The Red Raiders (15-3) lost to Iowa State and Baylor after a 4-0 start in Big 12 play. The other two-loss ranked teams were No. 11 Florida State (losses to Pittsburgh and Boston College ), No. 20 Oklahoma (Kansas State and Texas ) and No. 25 Indiana (Nebraska and Purdue , each by 15-point margins). ___ More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap ___ Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap
  • A late steal nearly cost Aislinn Konig and North Carolina State their spot as the only unbeaten team — women's or men's — in Division I. Konig scored 20 points, including a go-ahead 3 in overtime that helped the eighth-ranked Wolfpack beat Virginia Tech 70-61 on Sunday. 'With the fact that we're on this pedestal right now, everybody is going to be gunning for us,' Konig said. 'We have to play our best game, every game.' N.C. State (18-0, 5-0 ACC) led 59-58 with 9.1 seconds left in regulation and was set to inbound when coach Wes Moore started shouting for a timeout. He wanted the advance the ball from underneath his team's basket to halfcourt. But the crowd was so loud the referees didn't hear Moore. Instead, Taylor Emery stole the inbounds pass for the Hokies, drove to the basket and was fouled with 5.5 seconds remaining. Emery made the first free throw to tie it, but missed the second. N.C. State's Erika Cassell couldn't convert a shot at the buzzer. The Wolfpack outscored Virginia Tech 11-2 in overtime, leaving Moore grateful that the lack of a timeout call didn't cost the team the game. 'The players bailed the coach out,' Moore said. 'They did a heck of a job.' Kiara Leslie scored 25 points to N.C. State. Konig sprinted across the baseline to get open in the corner for a 3 with 2:18 left in OT, giving the Wolfpack a 64-61 advantage. She finished with five 3-pointers. Elissa Cunane added a pair of free throws 43 seconds later to extend the advantage to five. Virginia Tech (13-5, 0-5) dropped its fifth in a row. After falling to No. 1 Notre Dame 80-51 on Wednesday, the Hokies found a way to send this game to overtime. But they managed only a driving layup by Regan Magarity during the extra period. 'I'm disappointed today because I thought we had a chance to win,' Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks said. 'We lost so we have to get ready for the next one.' Trinity Baptise shot 3-for-4 from 3-point range and scored 13 points as Virginia Tech used a barrage of 3s to stay close. The Hokies made 11 of 24 from behind the arc against an N.C. State defense that held its first 17 opponents to just 31.2 percent shooting from 3-point range. BIG PICTURE Virginia Tech: Despite the loss, Virginia Tech can take some solace in another strong performance against a ranked team; the Hokies also lost in overtime to Syracuse. N.C. State: After a week off, N.C. State struggled at times on the defensive end against an excellent 3-point shooting team. The Wolfpack's successful start in conference play has come mostly against opponents near the bottom of the ACC standings, which means N.C. State has bigger challenges and will need to play better in the weeks to come. KEY STAT Virginia Tech attempted just eight free throws after entering the game leading the nation in free throw percentage at 81 percent. The Hokies were 4 of 8 from the free throw line Sunday. N.C. State, which ranked second in the nation in fewest fouls committed per game, was whistled for just eight fouls and fouled just twice in the first half. QUICK HITS Emery entered the game shooting 84.1 percent from the free throw line and made her first four attempts before missing at the end of regulation. ... Konig played all 45 minutes but said she got enough rest during timeouts to sustain her energy. 'I didn't really feel all that tired,' she said. 'It was more being locked in to everything that's happening on the floor.'... N.C. State, which ranked fifth in the nation in rebound margin entering the game, outrebounded Virginia Tech 42-25. UP NEXT Virginia Tech: Returns home to meet North Carolina on Thursday night. N.C. State: Plays host to Clemson on Thursday night.
  • Final Four MVP Arike Ogunbowale knows No. 1 Notre Dame needs to clean up its act if it hopes to defend its NCAA championship. 'We weren't focused taking care of the ball today,' Ogunbowale said after scoring 24 points to lead all five starters in double figures as the Fighting Irish routed Boston College 92-63 Sunday. Ogunbowale will get no argument from coach Muffet McGraw. After its 11th straight win, Notre Dame (18-1, 6-0 ACC) takes a break away from the league to visit No. 20 Tennessee on Thursday night in a nationally televised game. 'I was really disappointed with the unforced errors and mental mistakes,' McGraw said. The Fighting Irish had 18 turnovers, including four by Ogunbowale. She contributed five steals and hit 9 of 18 shots, including 3 of 7 3-pointers. Jackie Young overcame six miscues to have 18 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and three steals. Jessica Shepard added 11 points, 10 rebounds and a team-high six assists. Brianna Turner finished with 16 points and Marina Mabrey had 14. Freshman Taylor Soule scored 18 points to lead the Eagles (13-6, 2-4). Freshman Makayla Dickens who had 12 points in the first half but went scoreless in the second. 'Notre Dame is the No. 1 team in the country for a reason,' Boston College first-year coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said. 'When they are open, they knock down their shots. When they had to take over the boards in the fourth quarter to show their domination, they did.' The Irish outrebounded the Eagles 14-6 in the final quarter on way to a 40-31 advantage. Both teams came out shooting well — the Irish were 6 of 8 and the Eagles 5 of 7 — and Boston College led 14-13 on Dickens' 3-pointer with 5:09 left in the first quarter. But it was Boston College's last advantage as Notre Dame used an 11-2 run, highlighted by a pair of Ogunbowale 3-pointers, to lead 32-19 after the first quarter. The Irish used a 9-0 run that included a pair of 3-pointers by Mabrey in building a 20-point lead with 3:04 left before leading 49-34 at halftime. Ogunbowale's rush to score just before the third-quarter buzzer made it 67-50 despite the Irish hitting just 7 of 18 shots and going without a field goal for more than three minutes. BIG PICTURE Boston College: The Eagles' 13-player roster includes eight freshmen, two of them starters in guard Dickens and Marnella Garraud. Dickens had 12 points at halftime with the help of 3-for-3 shooting on 3-pointers. But the Irish shut her out in the second half as she missed all five shots, including two from long distance. With Soule leading the team in scoring, the seven freshmen who played scored 34 points. 'I was happy we came in and didn't back down,' Bernabei-McNamee said. 'Everyone who played in the game will be back. I thought my team, for being young, played pretty well.' Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish entered game averaging 19.6 assists on 33.4 field goals per game. Three players were averaging more than 4 assists per game: Young (4.5), Mabrey (4.2) and Ogunbowale (4.0). Young's assist-turnover ratio was 2.53, with Mabrey next at 2.29. The Irish finished with 21 assists on 35 buckets. 'Offensively, taking care of the ball is going to be the key,' McGraw said. 'You have to be ready for some pressure defense now. That was 18 turnovers without pressure.' STAYING GROUNDED The Eagles learned they would be staying another night in South Bend as a winter storm closed airports throughout New England. 'That's not fun,' Bernabei-McNamee said. UP NEXT Boston College: At Miami on Sunday. Notre Dame: At No. 20 Tennessee on Thursday. ___ More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • With just over a minute left and No. 11 Florida State rapidly closing the gap, an unlikely contributor popped onto the court to help Boston College hold on for a victory. Running back AJ Dillon, the Atlantic Coast Conference's preseason football player of the year, got out of his courtside seat and wiped down the floor while the teams lined up for a free throw, drawing a chuckle and a cheer from the crowd. 'We needed all hands on deck,' coach Jim Christian said after the Eagles upset the Seminoles 87-82, the third time in two seasons BC has beaten a ranked team in Chestnut Hill. 'Could have used him in the post.' Ky Bowman scored 37 points and Jordan Chatman gave BC the lead for good by hitting three straight 3-pointers during a 21-4 run to start the second half that sent the Seminoles (13-5, 1-4 ACC) to their third straight loss. BC (10-7, 1-4) led by nine with 87 seconds left before a pair of turnovers against the full-court press allowed FSU to make it a four-point game. But freshman Wynston Tabbs made a 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining to turn back the rally and snap the Eagles' five-game losing streak. The Eagles also got some help from Nik Popovic, who at 6-foot-11 was able to dribble through the press in the second half and made five of his six free-throw attempts to ice it. (And then there's Dillion, who ran for 149 yards and a touchdown the last time Florida State's football team visited Chestnut Hill.) 'I think what's clear, first and foremost, we've got to have everybody healthy and we've got to play well,' Christian said. 'This is the ACC. There's not one or two guys that carry any team. Everyone has to help for our team. I thought everybody contributed.' Mfiondu Kabengele had 26 points and nine rebounds and Terance Mann scored 14 points with eight boards for Florida State. Chatman, who went 0 for 5 from the field in the first half, scored 15 of his 17 points in the second — making all five 3-pointers he attempted after the break. With a snowstorm that dropped up to 7 inches on the area over Saturday night and into the morning, a sparse crowd at the Conte Forum came to life only in the second half, when Chatman hit three straight from beyond the arc to give the Eagles a 57-50 lead they never relinquished. 'We knew that Chatman would get hot,' Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said. 'He just stayed hot.' Bowman scored 18 points and grabbed five rebounds in the first half, when BC opened a 19-13 lead before the Seminoles scored eight straight points in 70 seconds to go in front. The Eagles guard finished with nine rebounds and played all 40 minutes. 'I've never seen a guy play 40 minutes five games in a row and in the fifth game get 37,' Hamilton said. 'We worked our butts off trying to keep him from getting the ball. We overplayed him, denied him, everything we could. He's that type of talent. He kind of drives the engine.' After Bowman gave the Eagles a 24-23 edge, Florida State scored 12 in a row and 17 of the next 18 points. The Seminoles took a 46-36 lead into the break but missed their first five shots of the second, and BC cut the deficit to four points. BIG PICTURE Florida State: A last-second defeat to top-ranked Duke was understandable, but the Seminoles may drop out of the Top 25 entirely after losses to Pittsburgh and Boston College. It does get a little easier: They leave the state of Florida only once in the next four weeks after traveling to Virginia, Pitt and BC this month. 'Anytime you start with your first three games on the road, you can get in a big hole this early in the season,' Hamilton said. Boston College: The Eagles have shown they can beat ranked teams — especially at home. They head to Wake Forest before games against Syracuse, Notre Dame and Syracuse again, so they may have to savor this for a while. 'It just builds confidence in each player, believing in one another and what it takes to beat one of the top teams in the ACC,' Bowman said. UP NEXT Florida State: Hosts Clemson on Tuesday. Boston College: Visits Wake Forest on Saturday. ___ More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • The Latest on the conference championship games (all times EST): 7:10 p.m. The Patriots lead the Chiefs 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, though Tom Brady and Co. are poised to score again after a dominant first 15 minutes in the AFC championship game. Kansas City only had the ball for 2:22 in the quarter, picking up a first down only on a defensive holding penalty. Patrick Mahomes was 0-for-2 passing and Damien Williams ran twice for three yards. Throw in a sack of Mahomes, and the Chiefs had minus-11 yards in the first quarter. Brady was 7 of 9 for 64 yards, clinically slicing up the Chiefs' defense. ___ 6:55 p.m. The Patriots have taken a 7-0 lead over the Chiefs after a grinding, 15-play, 80-yard drive that consumed more than half of the first quarter and ended with Sony Michel's touchdown plunge. New England was 3 for 3 on third down, but Michel did most of the work, carrying seven times for 32 yards against what was statistically the worst rush defense in the NFL this season. The draining drive also deflated a raucous crowd packed inside Arrowhead Stadium. Now, it's up to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the league's highest-scoring offense to provide an answer. ___ 6:40 p.m. The AFC championship game is underway with the Kansas City Chiefs kicking off to the New England Patriots and seeking their first trip to the Super Bowl in 49 years. The Patriots are trying to make it back for the third straight year. Melissa Ethridge performed the anthem, and the crowd packed inside Arrowhead Stadium was roaring as Tom Brady led the Patriots onto the field for the opening drive. ___ 6:35 p.m. Greg Zuerlein kicked a 57-yard field goal in overtime, sending the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl with a 26-23 victory over the New Orleans Saints. New Orleans received the ball to open overtime, but Drew Brees was intercepted on a pass near midfield. The Rams got one first down before getting stopped on third and 7 from the New Orleans 39. Zuerlein came on and drilled the winning kick dead-center with room to spare, ending a wild game that included a blown pass interference to stall the Saints in the red zone late in the fourth quarter. It will be the Rams' first Super Bowl trip since returning to LA from St. Louis for the 2016 season. ___ 6:20 p.m. The Saints and Rams have gone to overtime in the NFC championship game after a wild and controversial ending to the fourth quarter. The teams exchanged field goals in the final six minutes. The first came when Rams coach Sean McVay, known for his bold decision making on fourth downs, opted for a field goal at the goal line to make it 20-20 with 5:06 left. Drew Brees quickly drove the Saints downfield on the next possession, but New Orleans was stalled when officials missed a pass interference call on third down. Rams defensive back Nickel Robey-Coleman slammed into Tommylee Lewis while the ball was still in the air, and Saints coach Sean Payton was livid when no flag was thrown. New Orleans' Wil Lutz followed with a 31-yard field goal with 1:45 left. Los Angeles then drove into Saints territory to set up Greg Zuerlein's tying 48-yard field goal with 19 seconds left to make it 23-23. ___ 5:50 p.m. Greg Zuerlein made a 24-yard field goal with 5:03 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Rams tied the Saints 20-20 in the NFC championship game. The kick capped a nine-play, 85-yard drive for the Rams, who trailed 13-0 after the first quarter. Jared Goff completed passes to Josh Reynolds for 33 yards and to Gerald Everett for 39 yards on the drive. ___ 5:30 p.m. Patriots defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. and defensive tackle Danny Shelton are inactive for their AFC championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Both are a bit of a surprise. Wise has been dealing with an ankle injury but was taken off the report this week, while Shelton is a helpful body when it comes to stopping the run. The Patriots are choosing instead to go with an extra defensive back. Chiefs right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif also is inactive. He returned to the active roster from IR this week after missing time with a broken leg. But the Chiefs chose to stick with Andrew Wylie, who has been playing well in a starting role. ___ 5:20 p.m. The Los Angeles Rams cut New Orleans' lead to 20-17 with a short touchdown pass from Jared Goff to Tyler Higbee late in the third quarter. Higbee was wide open in the right flat on a third-down scoring pass after Saints defenders packed the middle in apparent anticipation of a run on third-and-goal from the 1. The touchdown capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive highlighted by a 25-yard pass to Brandin Cooks and a 16-yard run by receiver Josh Reynolds to the New Orleans 1. The score came after New Orleans had gone up 20-10 on its previous possession. ___ 5:05 p.m. The New Orleans Saints have regained momentum early in the second half and widened their lead to 20-10 on a short touchdown catch by versatile third-string quarterback Taysom Hill. After allowing the Rams to score the last 10 points of the first half, New Orleans' defense quickly forced a punt on Los Angeles' opening possession of the third quarter. After retaking possession, Saints methodically drove 71 yards with a mix of power runs by Mark Ingram and short receptions by Alvin Kamara. Kamara caught four passes on the drive and has been the Saints' top receiver in the game with 10 receptions for 88 yards. Ingram rushed three times for 25 yards during the series, including a 16-yard carry. ___ 4:40 p.m. The Rams have pulled to 13-10 at halftime following a two-minute drive highlighted by Jared Goff connections of 17 and 36 yards to former Saints first-rounder Brandin Cooks. Cooks' longer reception along the right sideline set up Todd Gurley's 6-yard touchdown run. The Saints opened up a 13-0 lead with a pair of Wil Lutz field goals and Drew Brees' 5-yard touchdown pass to seldom-used tight end Garrett Griffin on their first three possessions. New Orleans' second field goal was set up by linebacker Demario Davis' interception of a short pass that deflected off Gurley's hands. But Los Angeles, which will receive to open the third quarter, responded with 10 points in the second quarter. The touchdown capped an 81-yard drive that took just 1:29 off the game clock. ___ 4:40 p.m. The New Orleans Saints will be without tight end Josh Hill for the rest of the NFC championship game. Hill left the game with a concussion after hauling in a 24-yard pass from Drew Brees. While making the tackle, Los Angeles Rams linebacker Cory Littleton delivered a forearm to Hill's head. No penalty was called, but Hill staggered off the field to be evaluated by the medical staff. Just before halftime, the Saints announced he was done for the game. The loss of Hill led to a much bigger role in the offense for Garrett Griffin, who spent most of the season on the practice squad and had only one career catch coming into the game. Griffin hauled in a 5-yard touchdown pass and finished the half with two catches for 12 yards. — Paul Newberry reporting from New Orleans. ___ 4:05 p.m. A fake punt gave the Rams their first first down on their third possession and led to their first points of the game on a field goal. Jonny Hekker's pass to Sam Shields along the right side caught the Saints off guard on fourth-and-5. The play sustained a drive that produced three more first downs before Los Angeles stalled on running back Todd Gurley's dropped pass inside the New Orleans 20. Greg Zuerlein kicked a 36-yard field goal to make it 13-3 with 9:45 left in the second quarter. ___ 3:45 p.m. The Saints have taken a 13-0 lead on Drew Brees' 5-yard pass to seldom-used tight end Garrett Griffin. It was Griffin's first career TD and second career reception. New Orleans used a little gamesmanship to sustain the drive after their third third-down failure in the red zone on three possessions to start the game. The first two ended in field goals. This time, they kept the offense on the field and drew the Rams' aggressive front offside for the first down. Brees capitalized soon after, rolling right to buy time before Griffin came open running along the goal line. ___ 3:25 p.m. The Saints have converted an early turnover into a second field goal to take a 6-0 lead. New Orleans' second possession began on the Rams 16 after Jared Goff's short pass over the middle deflected off running back Todd Gurley's hands and into the arms of Saints linebacker Demario Davis. It marked the Saints' second time in the Rams' red zone, and the second time they stalled on third down with a short field. Wil Lutz, who kicked a 37-yard field goal on the opening drive, came back out to hit from 29 yards. The silver lining for Los Angeles is that it trailed by only one TD after its defense held twice inside its 20. ___ 3:15 p.m. The New Orleans Saints have opened the NFC title game with a field goal after very nearly scoring a touchdown. Drew Brees converted third-down passes of 9 yards to Ted Ginn and 21 yards to Alvin Kamara to sustain the drive, which stalled when tight end Dan Arnold was unable to hold on to a third-down pass in the back of the end zone. Wil Lutz came on and connected from 37 yards to give the Saints a 3-0 lead. ___ 2:15 p.m. There are no surprises among the Los Angeles Rams' and New Orleans Saints' inactive lists for the NFC championship game. Both teams came in largely healthy and most of those not in uniform are healthy reserves. The Saints already had ruled out receiver Keith Kirkwood with a calf injury that sidelined him during practice the past week. Kirkwood's absence comes one week after he caught a critical fourth-and-2 touchdown pass in New Orleans' comeback victory over Philadelphia in the divisional round. Also scratched from New Orleans' lineup is veteran tight end Ben Watson, who has been ill this week. He is in the Superdome with the Saints and even could be seen stretching on the field, raising his prospects for returning if New Orleans advances to play in the Super Bowl in two weeks. Los Angeles did not have a single player on its injury reports last week. Here are the full inactive lists for both teams. Rams: RB Justin Davis, OL Jamil Demby, OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, DT Sebastian Joseph-Day, DT Tanzel Smart, DB Darious Williams and OLB Trevon Young. Saints: TE Ben Watson (illness), WR Keith Kirkwood (calf), DL Tyrunn Walker, OL Will Clapp, LB Manti Te'o, OL Derek Newton and RB Dwayne Washington. ___ 2 p.m. The Los Angeles Rams are back inside the stadium where they lost for the first time this season, looking for retribution and a Super Bowl berth as they face the New Orleans Saints in the NFC championship game. The Superdome is coming alive for the last time this football season as predominantly Saints fans arrive for just the second NFC title game to be held at the site of seven Super Bowls. The previous time the Saints hosted a game this late in a season, they pulled out a hair-raising overtime triumph over Minnesota en route to their first Super Bowl appearance — and championship. That was the 2009 season. Some nine seasons later, coach Sean Payton and 40-year-old, record-setting quarterback Drew Brees are back with a largely different cast, one victory away from the team's second trip to the NFL's biggest event. When these teams met in Week 9, running back C.J. Anderson had not yet joined Todd Gurley in the Rams' backfield and Los Angeles cornerback Aqib Talib was not healthy enough to play. Their availability puts the Rams in a stronger position than they were in back on Nov. 4, when they fell to New Orleans 45-35. This is the first NFC title game for Rams 32-year-old, second-year coach Sean McVay and his 24-year-old quarterback, Jared Goff. On the AFC side, the New England Patriots are in their eighth consecutive conference championship game and trying to reach the Super Bowl for the fourth time in five seasons and the ninth time overall in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era. The Kansas City Chiefs, led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, are hosting the AFC title game for the first time at Arrowhead Stadium, and are trying to get to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1969 season. One thing that is unusual is that the Patriots are a slight underdog against the top-seeded Chiefs. 'We're going against a team that's the No. 1 seed in the league,' Brady said after the team's final practice on Friday. 'I'm sure there's a lot of people that are thinking they're going to win. Everyone can have their own opinion. We certainly have an opinion, and we've got to go out there and execute our best in order to accomplish that.' The winners that emerge from the conference championship games will meet in Atlanta on Feb. 3 in the Super Bowl. ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL